A SUPERMARKET stalwart swapped trolleys for a tractor as a special surprise to mark his retirement.

John Crampin worked as a trolley collector in Tesco Highwoods for more than three decades before his retirement last week.

And to mark his last day, colleagues shocked farming fanatic John with a lift home on a majestic Ford tractor.

With a pal driving his car back for him, the previously-ever-present car park attendant was shipped all the way to his home in Sycamore Way, Brantham, aboard the authentic arable vehicle.

He was also handed a prize pair of tickets to the Essex Young Farmers Show which he regularly visits.

The annual spectacular is where the 65-year-old has cultivated his passion for produce and farming.

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John was also stunned to see more than 70 colleagues past and present arrive for his leaving meal when he was only expecting four.

After helping his last customer, he said he would miss seeing friendly faces he had spoken to for many years.

“I’ve been a trolley collector more or less all the way through since I started in 1988,” he said.

“I have seen some sights in my time and quite a lot of people come and go but you get used to that.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

“I get to know people who are regulars and try to provide them a good service.”

Expecting to slip out quietly, John was surprised when the tractor turned up at the packed supermarket.

“Firstly, there was a barbecue and all the customers were coming and having a cup of tea,” he said.

“Then I saw the tractor and the store manager came out and asked me if I had spotted it.

“He must have done a lap round and then came back to pick me up.

“I never thought they would be able to do it because you have to be so careful with health and safety these days.

“Then when we went to the New Times in Tiptree the restaurant was full of people.

“It was quite unbelievable.

“You work for a firm and you take it for granted a little bit but everything they have done for me has been fantastic.”

Now retired, John’s hands-on skills are set to be put to good use.

“I’ve got a list of jobs to do - I might even get the hoover out,” he said.

“I’m going to get myself a shed and my neighbour’s fence needs replacing.

“The plan is to keep myself amused.

“There is a danger when you retire of just sitting and looking out the window and letting things drift but I don’t want that to happen.

“I keep in touch with people and I think that is a good thing so I can keep busy.”